Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nights at the Hotel Congress

"This hotel is the heart and soul of Tucson," a fellow guest told us in the lobby.  "I can't imagine staying anyplace else."  I was upgrading our room, not realizing I had booked over the popular bar and nightclub.  The interior rooms were already taken so I got one overlooking the street.  (But that guy was right.  This hotel is not just the heart and soul of Tucson, it is the main artery with heart-throbbing energy!)  We laughed at the packaged earplugs in our room.  Believe me, we used them!

But after spending two nights here, I have to agree with that man.  If I return to Tucson, I'm staying here.  Again!  The place oozes charm, history and vitality from every corner.  Whether sipping wine outside on the patio, listening to live music in the bar or (my favorite) enjoying those large breakfasts in the dining room, I loved every minute of my stay here.

Although the public areas are southwestern in theme, the rooms are filled with 1930 vintage furniture.  There are no queen or king size beds in this historic hotel--only twins and doubles.  We got a room with two double antique iron beds.  There is no t.v. but an old radio. The bathrooms are decorated with old black and white tile.  Leave your gadgets behind though.  Finding an extra plug to recharge them isn't easy!

But that's all part of the fun of staying here.  Hotel Congress is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.  It was built in 1919 across the street from the Southern Pacific Railroad and popular with travelers from the get-go.  Even John Dillinger and his gang stayed here during the winter of 1934, thinking no one would have heard of them in this godforsaken place.  Wrong!  When a fire broke out in the hotel, a fireman recognized them from photos in True Detective magazine and the whole lot of them were apprehended.

Today, passengers from Houston and Los Angeles get off at the equally charming Amtrak station across the street.  Since I have relatives in Tucson, I'm going to do this in the future, rather than drive. You don't really need a car.  You can walk, take the tram or flag down a taxi to get around.

 I got up bright and early one morning and walked the streets around the hotel.  All the stores and nightclubs were closed, of course, but I had old Tucson all to myself .  I met my travel buddy an hour later for a big breakfast of homemade quiche, potatoes and fruit.

  Yes, I will definitely be back.  Only next time, I'll make sure I get one of those quiet interior rooms!


  1. Very interesting that you mention Tuscon here. I'm going to mention it in my next post. My future daughter's in-laws live there half the year and we are now considering buying there too.

  2. Yes, Tucson is a vibrant little city surrounded by gorgeous landscape. I think you'll really like it there!